“Too old to become a Pilot?“, this is an interesting question! We want to talk about this subject as many future pilot candidates are asking this question and the answer is never really clear.
First of all, one’s have to know that there is no age limit to become an airline/commercial pilot (check out here the Airline Pilot Training Requirements).
So, what is “old”?
There is no official definition of being old in aviation, but we assume that from 35 to 45 years old, it is a bit difficult to start a professional pilot training. Late does not mean that it can’t be done!
One of the few things that might be affected by the age could be a longer learning process that can affect the overall cost of your training (it is part of the human factors that an older person requires more time to learn a new subject compared to a fresh young child).
From the Airlines point of view
There are no official reports but rumors says that Airlines do not like to hire “old” inexperienced pilots. The rumor also says that they prefer to hire fresh young ab-initio pilots (20-25 years old), but as I say it is only a rumor as it have been seen that some airlines hired 40 years old pilots with no experience at all.
For those who don’t want to fly the line, business aviation and turbo-prop or safari companies in Africa do like to hire older pilots as they might come for long term instead of just building hours before joining British Airways. Instruction is also another way of working as a Pilot.
In the current market situation for pilots, it is already difficult for students out of the major flight schools to find a job, so I it is even harder for the others.
Furthermore, joining an airline as First Officer at the age of 40 might limit your career plans. You might fly with a Captain younger than you (it is not a problem) but you might also never get the seniority to upgrade as Captain for your company.
Last but not least, you have the risk to loose your medical (as everybody you will say) before retiring, but someone loosing it at 50 after 30 years of experience or someone loosing it at 50 after 10 years of experience is less profitable on the money side.
Think twice before starting a professional pilot training. If you have a wife and children, your own house to pay every month, a secured job, I say it again: think about it twice.
Why? The list is long but to give a few reasons we will start with the cost of your training which can go up to 90.000€/£ depending of the school and if you go integrated or modular. This can affect your private life, you will have to make strong sacrifices with your family unless you have enough savings to pay your training cash.
If you go modular (which can be the easiest way if you have a family and a job), you couple your training with your job and you will spend most of your evenings, week-ends and holidays in studying, flying and preparing for your exams for almost two to four years… It can have many effects on your social and family life. Think about it.
If we can give you a last but important advice, do not leave a secured job (secured income) for doing your pilot training. Take Aviation as a plan B in your life.
It is never too late to become a Pilot! Many have done it before you and many have succeeded.
It all depend on you and your personal investment, the sacrifices you are ready to do for accomplishing your dream. If you feel ready to do it, go for it!